Went to Victoria for a couple of days. Saw Sal’s parents. Came back. It’s about four hours of straight driving or eight in total to and from Campbell River and, of course, a couple or three more hours from our house to Campbell River need to be added to get the full sense of it. Loading, packing, boats, hiking, logging roads, ferry line-ups. I used to drive eight hours in a normal day and squeeze in a mediation session. It is not like that anymore. One long day to Victoria and we are done.
“Not too bad. But I would be just as happy never to leave the island again. I wonder if we can just hire people to do all that needs to be done and, like, you know……………we stay there…………..never leave?”
Such a sentiment is not (probably) healthy but the city (Victoria) is hardly appealing. We parked on the street downtown and had breakfast with our son and daughter-in-law for $80.00!! Street parking was $7.50! Had I gone nuts and had another cup of Chai latte, we could have been a hundred dollars lighter. For breakfast! The weirdest part? We had to line up for forty minutes before getting in!! Yeah……the little, jammed, inelegant greasy spoon, the Blue Fox, is that popular! Good thing we didn’t have tea and toast at the Empress!
The really weirdest part? Somehow that seems to be the norm………….
But that sort of madness is not why I am writing. I just had to get that off my chest. Sorry. No, the reason I am writing is that I also went down to see a boat. I was sure I was gonna buy it. It was a 22 foot rowboat and I was thinking that rowing might be good for me. But when I saw it, I realized that it would be fine for rowing but NOT for all the work I had to do around here. I had to pass. The exercise was not a wasted one, tho. I met G.
G – the seller of the boat – is my age and has been ‘in computers’ for over forty years. That is a long time in that industry. He was first employed by IBM and worked on mainframes. Now he is a consultant. G has a BIG picture view of where it is all headed.
“So, G? In a sentence or two, where is all this headed? The computers, the CCTV, the social networking, our growing dependence on the net……………? What do you see in the future?”
“Well, being off the grid is good. Very good. Within a frighteningly short time people will have chips embedded in them. Soon it will start at birth. We’ll be wired in from birth on everything we do, everywhere we go, everyone we see and talk to. It will happen before I die and it will happen to your kids and their kids. It is already happening. I am moving off the grid, too.”
“You are kidding! Not that bad! Surely not?”
“That is only the half of it. But all you need to know is that they already know virtually everything you do. You have very few secrets. They have satellite access to everything. They really can read over your shoulder. And they do! In England they practically have the whole country covered in CCTV. And the US is more sophisticated than England. Pretty soon the most valuable thing you will have (and you won’t have it!) is privacy. They are taking that away.”
“That sounds beyond Orwell. Are you exaggerating to make the point?”
“Not in the least. In fact, I am sparing you some of the stuff. If you talk on the phone, use your computer, use a credit card and or have a smartphone, you are tracked already. They track for a reason. And the reason is not benign nor benevolent. You are feeding the beast!”.
I have heard this kind of thing before. I used to call it paranoid ranting. And yet I believed it to some small extent even at the time. Hell, I have met some student data miners from China already who described their careers in similar ways! I know that the essence of what he said was true.
Plus I have had dozens of people I would normally consider not-too-crazy-but-perhaps-a-little-paranoid and who were not in the business and who really didn’t know enough to be informed of such things warn of this state of affairs for years. But this guy was a bona fide, deeply-involved, active, senior worker in the industry with an extensive resumé and he was matter-of-fact and definitive.
The message: we are doomed! Sorta.
Oddly, he was not too concerned. “Look, it is inevitable. It will happen and it is already happening. What can you do? You got off the grid and I will go that route, too. But it won’t be enough. They will still know way too much about us. The only real benefit of getting off the grid, is that we are not the low-hanging fruit. Should they ever get so crazy as to interfere more than they already are, it is easier to interfere with those conveniently gathered in masses. We off-the-gridders will be the strays. Somehow that feels better. I don’t know if it is better, tho. We’ll see.
As we were coming home and expressing our desire to return here, Sal added…………“Ya know, if I had to do it again, I’d move out further. Maybe up a more northerly inlet. More remote. Somewhere mid-coast maybe. And I wouldn’t buy anything, I’d just squat illegally. Don’t wannna hafta ‘register’ anywhere. Or anything. And maybe build a bigger food shed……….waddya think……….get some guns………….learn to hunt…………..am I talkin’ crazy, here? Is it too late go further out……?”
Nothing like a weekend in the city to gain some perspective, eh?